A UK government suggestion that unemployed British workers could fill seasonal horticulture roles like strawberry picking is an 'unrealistic, temporary and short-term solution' to the Brexit farm labour crisis, according to the Soil Association, which would prefer to inspire more young people to take up long-term careers in horticulture.

Responding to concerns over the shortage in migrant labour post-Brexit, the organic watchdog released a new report ‘Digging into Horticulture: Encouraging the Next Generation of Producers’ which addressed the 'negative perception' of horticultural careers amongst the Millennial generation, which associates the sector with low-paid and low skilled work.

The SA report urges the sector to come together to push for increasing government support for horticulture via the upcoming Agriculture Bill, in particular maintaining the EU Fruit and Vegetable Aid scheme which provides support to horticultural producer organisations.

Policy officer Honor Eldridge said that more needs to be done to showcase to young people the rewards of working in the horticultural sector: “We agree that a more future-focused vision of horticulture is needed, one that connects to the priorities of young people and shows British workers how rewarding these jobs can be.

"To this end, the Soil Association’s Future Growers programme offers training and provides an attractive entry point into small and medium-scale horticulture businesses,” she continued. “Next week we are releasing research demonstrating how a similar programme is needed to encourage Millennials into large-scale production through training and by emphasizing horticulture’s many benefits."